Know When to Say No

Today a dear friend called me up with a great opportunity. She wanted to offer me a leadership position on a new project that her organization is working on. This is an amazing chance to meet with a lot of people, to help out the group, and to build a lot of good recognition for myself and my business, too. You know what I said?

“No, thank you.”

Of course, I also thanked her for the honor, but after hearing about the opportunity and some of the details about the time commitment involved, I just knew that I couldn’t dedicate the kind of effort that this project needed. If I had said yes, it would have been detrimental to the project, the group, and to my own reputation. It just didn’t fit right now.

Now, please understand, I think that giving value is the only way to grow your network. That said, though, you do still have only twenty-four hours in the day. If the value you are giving is taking away from time spent with your spouse, your children, or your health, then you really need to consider whether you can afford to do so.

As the airline instructions say: “Put on your own mask first.” Only when your own life is in balance can you hope to be of true service to others.

Photo credit: Billy Alexander


About Greg Peters

Greg Peters, president and founder of The Reluctant Networker, LLC, is a business networking specialist. He works with trade associations on both the local and national level to create a culture of better connections and greater opportunity. Find out more at or


  1. KUDOS on knowing when to say when. You're adding positive energy by waiting instead of committing and pulling resources away from your main focus and your family. It's a tough call sometimes, but I say more power to you!

    Also, I love the airline oxygen mask analogy. I'm stealing this anecdote, but I'll credit you the first three times I use it of course!

  2. Thanks, Sean (leadingfocus). Glad you liked the post and you are more than welcome to the oxygen mask analogy (I know that I'm not the first person to use it). After all, I must have stolen it from someone at sometime myself! 😉

    My Karate instructor had a great comment on this whole process. He said that it's easy to say "no" to a bad idea. It's far more difficult to say "no" to a good idea that just doesn fit right now.

  3. I'm proud of ya! I agree that sometimes the heat of the honor makes my brain disengage and then two or three months later I am saying, "What was I thinking??"

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